Archive for February, 2014

Texas DUI Lawyer Provides Summary of Texas DUI Penalties

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Just like drinking alcohol can be a difficult habit to break, the habit of drinking and driving can be hard to kick. Although the penalties for DUIs increase for repeat offenses, second and third offenses are not uncommon. Drinking alcohol suppresses a person’s ability to reason, so when people drink, they tend to make decisions based upon what is most important to them at the present moment. Also, many people who consume alcohol feel as though they are less intoxicated than they actually are, and they choose to drive because they think that they can do so safely. Whatever the reason for a person’s decision to drive after consuming alcohol, if they are stopped by a law enforcement official and are subsequently charged for driving under the influence of alcohol, it is important that they understand the possible penalties and long term consequences of a Texas DUI conviction.

In Texas, drivers who are twenty one years of age or older can expect that certain penalties will be considered in their case. For a first offense, you may have to pay a fine of up to two thousand dollars and serve three to one hundred and eighty days of jail time. Your license may be suspended for up to two years, and when you are able to get it back, you may have to pay a surcharge of up to two thousand dollars per year for up to three years in order to keep it. There is also the possibility that you could be required to attend a DUI education program and/or install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, depending upon whether there were any other factors associated with your DUI that would make those penalties applicable.

For your second offense, the fine could be up to four thousand dollars, and the jail time is between one month and one year. The license suspension period, surcharge, and possibility of additional requirements is the same as it is for a first offense. If you are charged with DUI for a third time, you could be assessed a fine of up to ten thousand dollars and two to ten years in state prison. Your license may be suspended for up to two years, and the same requirements for a reinstatement surcharge and possible DUI education and/or ignition interlock apply, just as they do for any other DUI offense.

There are factors which could increase the penalties in your DUI case. For example, if you had a passenger in your vehicle who was under the age of fifteen, you will pay a fine of up to ten thousand dollars, serve up to two years in jail, and receive a one hundred and eighty day license suspension. If you caused serious bodily injury or death as a result of driving while intoxicated, you may face felony charges. Minors and commercial drivers have different penalties than adult, non-commercial drivers, so if you are a minor or a commercial driver it is important that you learn about the penalties which would apply to you.

While it is important to understand the penalties that you may be subject to if you are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in Texas, it is also important that you understand the potential long term impacts of a DUI conviction. In addition to making qualifying for employment, housing, and education opportunities more difficult, your conviction is likely to result in a large increase in your automobile insurance costs. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, a skilled East Texas DUI defense attorney can help you to increase your chances of avoiding a DUI conviction and the consequences that would go along with it, and help you to achieve the best possible outcome in your case under the circumstances. To learn more, call Texas DUI Attorney Alex Tyra today to schedule your free consultation. We can be reached at (903) 753-7499, or you may visit our website to submit a convenient online contact form.



Texas Family Law Attorney Explains the Best Interest of a Child Standard

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

If you have minor children and you are involved in a Texas Divorce, or you are considering one, you may wonder what criteria Texas courts use in making decisions regarding child custody. The child custody orders that work best for everyone involved are the ones that are created by agreement between the divorcing parties. However, if you and your soon to be former spouse are unable to reach an agreement on how you will divide parenting time and responsibilities, the court will step in and create an order which provides for the best interests of the children while addressing the needs and abilities of both parents.

In Texas, there is a list of nine factors which courts commonly assess in their decisions regarding child custody. The nine factors are derived from the case of Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367 (Tex. 1976), and are commonly referred to as the “Holley Factors”. It is important to note that while the Holley case was a case dealing with the issue of whether to terminate parental rights, the courts have found that the list of factors which came out of the Texas Supreme Court’s decision in that case are applicable in all kinds of cases where a decision must be made regarding the custody of one or more children.

The Holley factors, when considered as a group, help the court to decide what kind of child custody order will serve the best interests of the children to whom it will apply. These factors include the abilities of the parents, the desires of the children, the stability of the parents’ homes, the plans that each parent has for the children, present and future physical and emotional needs of the children, whether either parent poses a danger to the emotional or physical well-being of the children, behaviors of the parent which may affect the appropriateness of the parent-child relationship, reasons for any parental behavior which affects the appropriateness of the parent-child relationship, and any programs that are available to assist the parties in providing for the best interest of the children.

It is also important that parents who are involved in Texas divorce cases understand that while the Holley factors play a large role in custody decisions, other pertinent factors may be considered by the court as well. If any of the following topics are important to your family, it is important that you let your attorney know so that they may present information about them to the court. The past and present state of which parents fulfill which responsibilities to the children may be a factor in custody cases, as it is closely tied to the everyday activities and routines that the children are accustomed to. Parental behavior which is intended to undermine the relationships of the children with their other parent is not conducive to a healthy environment for the children, so it should be mentioned in any case where it has occurred. Also, if there are other things that are important to you, discuss them with your attorney so that they can help you to understand whether and how they would contribute to a discussion of child custody in your case.

If your divorce case involves children, it is important that you seek the assistance of a knowledgeable East Texas Divorce Attorney. A skilled divorce attorney can increase your chance of reaching a child custody agreement which will work for you, and can help you present your best case in the event that any portion of your divorce proceeds to litigation. To learn more, call Texas Family Law Attorney Alex Tyra today to schedule a free consultation with one of our Texas Divorce Attorneys. We can be reached at (903) 753-7499, or you may visit us online to submit a convenient online contact form.


Texas Criminal Justice Reforms Save Money While Keeping Crime Rates Down

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

The crime rate is down, and fortunately, so is the number of people in Texas prisons. Texas is one of seventeen states that are in the early stages of a criminal justice reform program which takes the money that is being saved by reducing prison populations and invests it into programs designed to reduce first-time incarceration and recidivism.

State leaders have chosen to opt out of building more prisons to house non-violent offenders, and are focusing instead in improving drug treatment and parole programs. Some of the notable reforms include giving more power to courts designed specifically to deal with drug offenses, rethinking the parole program, and making it easier for former prisoners to integrate into society after their release.

Drug courts are specialized courts for non-violent persons who are charged with drug-related offenses. The focus of drug courts is rehabilitation, rather than punishment, and they serve to help offenders move forward in their lives as productive members of society. Prior to 2001, there were only seven drug courts in Texas. There are now seventy four. Participants in drug court programs attend regular status hearings, where they inform the court of their progress through their individualized program of assessment, monitoring, and comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Probation and parole reforms have reduced the amount of people who are sent back to jail after violating the conditions of their release by providing intermediate steps in between an initial violation and a return to prison. Intermediate sanction facilities are intended for short-term confinement, where offenders can receive additional treatment and another chance at avoiding a return to prison.

When prisoners are released, it is often difficult for them to get a fresh start because they encounter difficulties in finding housing, jobs, and other resources that can help them begin building a better life. Recent reforms have increased the amount of preparation that prisoners undergo before they are released, in hopes that this will help them to make better choices once they gain their freedom. Community organizations like “Bridges to Life” in Amarillo and similar programs throughout the state provide training and support to released prisoners, which increase their chance of success.

The reforms have been effective so far, and are expected to continue to be just as effective if not even more so. Between 2004 and 2007, the percentage of released offenders who went back to prison within three years of their release dropped from thirty percent to twenty four percent. Three adult prisons and six juvenile detention facilities have been closed, thanks to programs that focus on treatment and rehabilitation within the community setting rather than confinement. There also have been reductions in overall criminal justice spending, even as the amounts spent on treatment, probation, and other community-based services have increased. Perhaps most importantly, the people who are most affected by the reforms, the offenders and their families, are being handled in a way that acknowledges their potential for change and personal growth while keeping the public safe by ensuring that the most dangerous offenders are securely confined.

If you are facing criminal charges, it is essential that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. A knowledgeable East Texas criminal defense attorney can help you to present your best possible case and evaluate any possible alternatives to conviction which may be available to you. To learn how a criminal defense attorney can help you, call Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Alex Tyra now, of the Law Office of Alex Tyra, P.C., to schedule a free initial consultation. We can be reached at (903) 753-7499, or you may visit our website and submit a convenient online contact form.